Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Speakers

Photo by Jeff Sciortino in Chicago Magazine

The Denver Post ran a story two days ago about a speech given by former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

NC protesters walk out of speech by Tancredo

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—At least 100 protesters walked out on former congressman Tom Tancredo as he spoke on a North Carolina university campus, one year after he was shouted down at a similar appearance.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the group at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill stood in unison Monday night, yelling, "No human is illegal." After that, the students moved outside the Student Union and into the Pit, a traditional campus gathering spot.

Tancredo continued with his speech.

When the Colorado Republican visited UNC last April, Students for a Democratic Society shouted him down, held banners in front of him and marched through the hallway outside the overcrowded classroom where he spoke. Criminal charges were filed against one student, but were later dropped.

The Denver Post has a story today (April 28, 2010) about another speech:

Judge won't let university cancel Ayers' speech in Wyoming

CASPER — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Wyoming must allow 1960s radical William Ayers to speak on the Laramie campus.

The university had cited threats of violence in not allowing Ayers to speak at an event planned for today.

Ayers, a University of Illinois-Chicago professor, was co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical 1960s anti-war group that claimed to be responsible for a series of bombings. Charges against him were later dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct.

In one case, the speaker’s First Amendment rights are upheld. In the other, the speaker’s First Amendment rights are abused.

The Denver Post helps our understanding of this cultural double standard by noting that the speaker suffering the abuse is - wait for it - a Republican.

UPDATE 4/29/2010:
The Denver Post gives us a summary of reaction to Mr. Ayers' speech last night.  About 10 people carrying flags gathered outside the auditorium to protest the speech.  That circumstance will support a claim that "both Democrats and Republicans have the same problem" but will miss the distinction that the anti-Republican activities were conducted inside the auditorium, involved ten times the number of people, and disrupted the speaker.

Just another day in the life of a public speaker who happens to be a Republican...

UPDATE 4/30/2010:
Michelle Malkin has a link to a New York Times op-ed written by Kris Kobach that addresses some of the issues being talked about by congressman Tancredo.  Left Coast Rebel links to us.  Thanks, Tim.

The essential point is that Americans must carry identification documents with them when in foreign countries, yet our culture deems it "unfair" when we try to enforce such a provision on foreign visitors to America.

Isn't the abstraction of politics fascinating?  With passion and conviction, we mentally separate decisions about our personal security from those decisions we make about national security.  It is wholly understandable that I as an individual should carry ID, yet our culture finds it totally unreasonable to expect the same accommodation from a large demographic group.

And what makes this logic legitimate?  Politics!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Killing Me Softly

The title of this post comes with apologies to lyricist Norman Gimbel and composer Charles Fox. It is not about a song made popular by Roberta Flack.

Rather, this post relates to a strange new theme being advanced by our anti-Republican culture: Republicans as killers.

I know. It’s probably going to take some background information to understand this one...

Do you remember Cindy Sheehan? Her son Casey was one of eight service members killed on Palm Sunday (April 4, 2004) during a battle in Sadr City, Iraq.

Mrs. Sheehan could have blamed the insurgents who killed her son. She could have blamed Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the militants. She could have blamed the abstraction of war.

Mrs. Sheehan didn’t choose any of these.

She chose to blame Republicans, and directed her hatred specifically toward President George W. Bush.

A photo of the memorial service for Casey Sheehan and his comrades
by Michael Abrams of Stars and Stripes.

Fast-forward to the present. You are watching last month’s House floor debate on the health care bill.

Representative John Dingell, D-MI, uses his moral authority to cast Republicans as killers. He lectures us on Republicans causing the deaths of people with medical ailments, and chastises his Republican colleagues, saying “Eighteen thousand Americans every day die - uh every year – die for want of health care.” (24:46 in the C-SPAN video)

If 50 Americans are dying from lack of health care every day, Representative Dingell tells us it is because of Republicans. There is no sense of shared responsibility. Republicans are to blame.

This month, we see the “Republicans as killers” theme applied in very specific instances. Sarah Palin finds herself accused of having a violent page in Facebook!

The Huffington Post headlines its report:

“Sarah Palin’s PAC Puts Gun Sights on Democrats She’s Targeting in 2010.”
The article posts a picture of the Arctic Fox using her index fingers as six-shooters, and characterizes her language as “decidedly militant.”

For proof, it quotes the former governor of Alaska as saying “We’ll aim for these races…” and “This is just the first salvo…” and “join me in the fight.”

It might seem lighthearted, but there is an unmistakably dark background message: Sarah Palin wants to kill off Democratic Party congressional candidates.

Combine that with a recent report by Sam Stein of the Huffington Post that characterizes the American Tea Party Movement as filled with violent racists, and you get a sense of the anti-Republican rhetoric that is being ramped up for this year’s elections.

Is characterizing Republicans as “racists” or “homophobes” or “bigots” hate speech? The task of our anti-Republican culture is to acclimatize us to that type of speech so that it seems “right and natural.” However, routinely being labeled a “killer” is going to require a bigger mental adjustment, and brings up a couple of questions:

Why, in America, has it become a kind of national sport to hate Republicans?

When did hatred become “cool”?

UPDATE 12/1/2010:
Power Line has a critique of a post from The Democratic Strategist that characterizes Republicans as being prone to violence and engaging in "Politics as Warfare."  Power Line downplays it, but the rhetoric of the piece is a "call to arms" that should not be dismissed lightly.

UPDATE 8/22/2013:
Thom Hartmann characterizes Republicans as "stone-cold killers."

UPDATE 12/14/2013:
The Denver Post follows up on yesterday's Arapahoe High School shooting incident here in Colorado, providing background on the possible motivation of the student gunman. The "Republicans as killers" theme is apparently taking root:

Pierson also appears to mock Republicans on another Facebook post, writing "you republicans are so cute" and posting an image that reads: "The Republican Party: Health Care: Let 'em Die, Climate Change: Let 'em Die, Gun Violence: Let 'em Die, Women's Rights: Let 'em Die, More War: Let 'em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?"

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